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The “stay-at-home mom” double standard

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GUESTBLOGI am a 28 year old, married, mother of two. I have a daughter who is eight and a son who is four. I have been with my husband for 10 years, married four. I was laid off in 2004 from a job that I only slightly enjoyed (Yay for Lunch Breaks!) and during this time I became pregnant with my son. I am a stay-at-home Mom. Our decision to do that came from the “abundance” (sarcasm) of good childcare available to us. I have worked part-time during this time, but, not to the inconvenience of my family. I would like to have more income at our disposal, but the overall benefit is far more rewarding than the money. I think it’s a good decision. It works for my family. I am there to pick my daughter up from school and being home with my son has given me an opportunity that I didn’t have with my daughter. Admittedly though, I sometimes crave the hustle and bustle, adult conversation and the feeling of being “kid-free” that I enjoyed while I worked.

That is the least of my worries…

I ran into an old friend of my mom’s sometime last week. She asked the standards, How’s your Mom? , How are the kids? , How’s married life? , blah, blah, blah…

The conversation then went like this:

OG (mama’s friend): So where are you working now?

Me: I’m a housewife.

OG: Housewife?! Well excuse me. He’s (my son) not in daycare? That boy looks like he should be in school.

Me: My son just turned four (3/7) and he will be going to school next year. I stay at home with him. He knows his numbers, shapes, colors, how to write his name…

OG: Well okay. So are you going back to work when he goes to school?

Me: No disrespect Ms. A, but why are you so interested in my employment status?

OG: Well I just think staying home is lazy. It’s nice that your son knows all his shapes, but he could learn all that at daycare or at a babysitter. Shoot, with these times you should be working, not on Welfare…

Me: *Tension building* Pardon you, but I’m not on welfare. Have never been, and if I was? Look here, if you want, you can find a daycare or Babysitter for him, and pay for it.

OG: You don’t have to take it like that, It’s just that you at home with your kids like some white woman. Where does your husband work?

Me: *Awkward laughter* That has to be one of the most ignorant things I’ve heard in a while. Why is me staying home with my kids a problem?

OG: I just think that you should be helping out money-wise. You got your husband out here working while you at home.

Me: Mmmm, okay well, we got to go.

OG: *Tries to hug me*

Me: *Walks away*

After later talking with my mom and my husband, I am reminded that this is not my first time having a conversation such as this where I immediately have that inner feeling of DEFENSE MODE. I’ve never had one quite as outright rude as this one, but, nevertheless, not the first.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel like, In the African–American Community, the decision to be a stay-at-home mom is not viewed the same as it is in the Caucasian Community. A choice was made by my family to create a dynamic that has my children’s mother as available to them as I can be and for that I’m viewed as lazy and trifling? Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that the ignorance in this conversation was on a hundred-thousand-trillion, but is there a possibility that what I’m feeling may not just be a figment of my reality?

Nikia

Bronx, NY

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, I totally disagree with some of the comments on here (Michelle). I am a 26 year old married man (6 1\2 years) with a 5 year old son, and my wife and I are transitioning her to being a stay at home mom. Regardless of what some of yall say, having a healthy family, and child rearing are way more important then what is being portrayed these days. I’m rereading Michelle’s comment and shaking my head. Have you not been seeing what’s been going on in the black community? We got kids raising themselves, single mother households with no man, young men out there thuggin’, and young women out there pregnant. That’s all because our most important institution in our community [family] is eroding, and I ain’t talkin extended family homes like mama, child, auntie, and grandmama… I’m talkin about traditional mother and father households. I believe the independence movement has messed up the black community. Why? Because we are supposed to rely on each other and not ourselves, and trust in that.

  2. I can’t believe this is such a polarizing topic. I am a WAHM I was a SAHM for 3.5 years (it’s always been a preference in our household). I took a minute to step into Corp. America this past summer after graduating with my BS. I let them know that daycare was leaving me with little income and my children needed me at home. My boss said “So what? I leave at two everyday to be with my kid…you want to be like me be an entrepreneur.”

    Now I am back at home and running my own biz in a field I have always loved. My family deserves the best point blank period. It’s a blessing to be present in the life of my children every single day. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. But it’s exciting and I wish Americans really understood the meaning of Work-Life Balance. Until that happens it’s all about making our own rules when it comes to our household.

  3. Mocha Moms is an long established support group for mothers of color who choose to stay at home. Visit their website and join your local chapter. Staying at home with your children is a blessing, congregate with other mothers who feel the same way!

  4. Welfare be the answer…I don’t know who my babies daddies are or do I care…..Welfare be taken the slack off me.

  5. I was a stay at home mother of two boys. I went back to work when they started school and when they had enough knowledge to tell me when they were being mistreated. I enjoy staying at home with them.I work weekends and still spent quality time with them. I went on field trips, parent helper in the class room. You do what evers works for you. My boys respect that I work and still take care of home. I did not raise them on public assistant and they are not killers. Both are honor roll students

  6. To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required!!!!!!I am a Stay-at-home mom/housewife. My son is the blessing that my husband prayed for. I am used to having cash at my disposal, running off for the weekend at a moments notice, going on shopping sprees, etc. If I had to do all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love that loud, some times smelly, demanding, affectionate little bundle of JOY and I wouldn’t trade his dirty diapers and homemade baby food for anything in this world. i am a professional bottle washer because I’m blessed. Staying homing with my son is not a sacrifice for my family, it is a blessing. It required a paradigm shift on everyone’s part, but he is worth it!!!!!!

  7. I can not believe that crap I read here. Being a stay at home mother DOES NOT mean your kids will be killers or any oher crazy verb. It is a wonderful thing to be able to stay at home and raise your children. It is NOT a white thing either. My mother, grandparents and all my aunts stayed home. However, they all got college degrees, not my grand mom, so if something happened they had something to fall back on.
    I am a mother of 4 and I had to work. My husband died and i had no choice. I was a stay a home mom unil her died and TRUST ME I WORKED HARD!! I would have loved to continue to stay home and do the things my mother and grandmother did with me. I never went home to an empty house, I had healthy meals, no junk food, I had attention, there was always someone making sure I didnt get into any trouble. I was in all kinds of activities and clubs after school. My mother was able to take me to them becuase she didnt work.
    I loved my childhood. No, we were not rich and I am sure if my mother had worked it would have been easier on my father. BUT he never complained; infact this was a choice they made because they knew how important it was for the children.
    Staying home and being a homemaker is not for a lazy woman, unless you want to do it wrong. My mother was busy all day. She not only cook, cleaned, and took care of us, played with us, entertained us; she helped in the community. she made time to help other. She taught us to give back and be productive people. This is somehing I taught to my kids. They feed the homeless, have gone to Nepal to help build schools, they have joined in with community clean up and many other things.
    Like I said, I work so I know the other side. It can be a good thing IF you make the best out of it. I am a teacher and I have been able to work in several countries. My children have been able to see places others only dream of and I was able to give them things. . BUT TRUST ME it was not easy. There were many days my kids just waned time with me. There were many days I could not do things because I had to work. There were times when THINGS didnt mean anything to them. They would have rather had more attention from me. I would have LOVED the option to just be a mom..But with me being the only living parent that option was not given to me.
    I had a stay a home mom and I am so thankful for the sacrifice she made to be able to do it.

  8. It’s sad what culture does to us I’m telling you!!! I would adore the opportunity to be a stay at home/homeschooling mom! The most important job in the world is placed in another persons hands by x% of us every single day and that is considered normal.

    The feminist movement did a great thing in getting women equal rights, but it sure killed the fact that we were created to be mothers to our children and on the real how many of us have jobs so fulfilling that it’s better than what we could be doing at home? Truth be told my house is so toe up because of the 9-5 LOL. Mind u I’d also do more within the community and things of that nature but I think we are lacking in the fact that more mothers are not at home than we are lacking in the working world.

    Okay lemme get off my soapbox LOL this just gets me mad every time I hear someone having to defend why they are a stay at home mom.

  9. Girl, I could care less what people say about what my husband and I decide to do with our children and our family. While some are saying it is trifling to stay at home with the kids, they are thinking they wish they could do that. You don’t really know these people, don’t take it personally. What works for some may not work for all. I am a stay at home mom. I love being here for my kids when they need me and for anyone to say taking care of home is easy that just lets you know they don’t know how truly hard it is to be a homemaker. My husband use to think I had the easier job because I stayed at home with the kids, then he started to work from home more often and saw all the things I had to do to keep the house running not only did he stop taking all I was doing for granted but he started helping me out more without having to ask him.

  10. HI I AM A MOTHER OF AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD SON AN FIVE YEAR OLD TWIN DAUGHTERS AN I STAYED AT HOME WITH THEM UNTIL MY TWINS TURNED 3 1/2
    AND I ENJOYED IT. I WOULDN’T LET PEOPLE WORRY ME ENJOY YOUR LIFE AND YOUR FAMILY AS LONG AS YOUR HUSBAND UNDERSTAND AND IS OK WITH HIM WOULDN’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT THEY WERE SAYING ABOUT ME. BECAUSE IF THE COULD STAY AT HOME WITH THERE KIDS THEY WOULD TO. I NOW HAVE A JOB AND I AM WORKING AND I REALIZE KNOW HOW MUCH I ENJOYED IT.
    LIVE YOUR LIFE AND LOVE GOD TRUE ENOUGH WE ALL NEED TO BE FINACIALY STABLE BUT IT WILL ALL WORK OUT. WISH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THE BEST.
    GOD BLESS YOU.

  11. I don’t that you are doing anything important staying at home. The kids have to be raised regardless if you stay at home. As a young women of 30 I see the damage that can cause. Moms on well-fare stay at home and collect a check.There kids are 95%as likely to do the same because they don’t know any better. A stay at home mom is the same EXCEPT the husband is the provider instead of the county. I want to have children some day and can’t wait to stay at home for the allowed time. How could I ever tell my daughter to make something of herself is all she sees is me at home. Paying bills, cooking, cleaning doesn’t require that I stay at home. How can you honestly expect your husband to REALLY take into consideration anything you say when you don’t contribute to the home. The only thing that you can do is be pretty, have the child and yourself clean, the home should be immaculate, dinner should ALWAYS be ready and you are ready willing and able to please him in every way imaginable because THAT is your real job, making sure that your husband and home are perfect since you have all day to make sure of that.
    I would never tell someone that being a mom is not important, because it’s the MOST important job that you can have, but it shouldn’t be your only job. Oprah has lead stay at home moms to believe that is the hardest job. I bet if you ask a doctor, lawyer, teacher, veterinarian, cop, housekeeper, nanny they would strongly disagree with it being anything more than what they do EXCEPT they don’t get to sit at home and watch T.V.
    Say what you want I dare you to prove me wrong.
    Don’t ask me, ask any man that how they feel about busting out 40-80 hour weeks while wifey stays at home.

    • Michelle, honey I have to say you are very clearly mislead in your thinking. My husband wanted me to stay at home and care for our kids. Because his mom and dad worked full-time and left him and his brothers in care of others more so than his parents did. He was lonely and he missed his parents dearly. He didn’t want that for his kids. If you are apart of the relationship that decided it worked out better to have the wife stay at home to care for the kids you don’t have to think what a stay home mother does is important. LOL I could care less if you think what I or any other stay at home mother does is important. As far as your comment that stay at home moms are like welfare moms but the husband is the provider instead of the state is like saying all black people look alike. You need to speak in general terms. Just because you stay at home doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute to the income flow of the house. I write book, draw, and do a ton of other things to get my hustle on. You speak as if being a stay at home mom puts you in a position of being powerless. LOL I can tell you clearly are naive on the matter. My husband and I are equal in our marriage. Although he works he contributes a lot to the family. He washes the clothes, he spends time with the kids and I, he cuts the grass and in all of this we still turn to each other when we make a purchase of more than $100.00. Your statements are laughable. A lot of the things you say scream naivety. My kids are more important to my husband and I than others opinions of us. My kids do so well in school they keep being tested for being gifted because I home school them as well until the are old enough to go to school. In all fairness you saying things about being a stay at home mom when you have clearly never been one is like trying to tell a man how to be one. You can’t speak on what someone else does without walking a mile in their shoes. LOL the whole part of you want to have kids one day is the kicker. LOL you have absolutely no idea of how hard it is to be a parent and what is all entailed in the job if you don’t have kids. I had a sister in law that would always say girl I wish when I have kids they would do so and so. I would… LOL ask me if she ate those words. Her kids have done the same things she was referring to and much worse. It is real easy to say what you will and won’t do in any given situation if you have never been in it. Because of this reason alone I have learn to never say never. My rant may be full of mistakes I didn’t proof read it but I am sure you will get the just of it. By the way I have four kids and there are more ways to contribute to a family than just bringing in money. If all my husband did was bring in the money what is to keep me from finding someone to bring in more money?

      • I agree with you Maryamb. The comment about serial killers disturbs me. What about gang bangers, Pimps and Ho’s and drug addicts. They come from all sorts of household mostly single working parent who’s mom is the one says “I don’t need a man” “I’m the mommy and daddy” “I’m holding it down I work 70hrs a week” and I leave my kid in school until 3pm then Ms.Ryan picks him up at watch him until 7pm and on the Sat afternoon they stay over grandma’s house while I go to the club in the evening the pick the child up Sun evening. I’ve seen it all!!!! What is with the welfare statement not all stay at home moms are on WELFARE!!! I work at home PT and so do others. Yes, people talk and don’t know crap. I think it jealousy because it’s hard to find a good man. Then to find one who wants you to stay home and take care of child and home.

      • You are so right. But staying at home is a personal decision. I enjoyed being there with my children and having the opportunity to instill my values for my children. We did our times in the park, shopping, playing visits and my work in my home. I loved it. But there are some who would rather be away from the home and some who don’t get the choice. It, for me, was a rewarding experience. My mom stayed home with me until I was school age but I still missed having to come home to an empty house and put all my good news and good report cards on hold until she arrived. But I knew she had to work and would have stayed at home if she could. I had the choice and I loved staying at home. Even when the children were in school, I enjoyed the activities at the schools and just being there for them. It is a time in my life that I shall never regret.

    • I once knew a stay-at-home mother, and anyone who thinks that these women either don’t do anything while at home, or are some robots who go from House Maid to Sex Kitten at the snap of a finger don’t know JACK. Being a stay-at-home mother is WORK. Interacting and teaching your children while taking care of the house is WORK. Maybe the sitcoms of the ’50s and ’60s showing suburban housewives as prim domestic goddesses have poisoned your mind, but I have seen the real deal and that woman worked very hard! She wasn’t some pampered upper-crust wife with an army of servants…and where is the study showing that ALL criminals come from housewife backgrounds? Plus, any child who kills their parents for enforcing house rules has a screwed up mentality – which has precious little to do with whether Mommy stayed home or worked. Check your logic and try again.

      Nikia, ignore the ignorant ‘experts’ and do what you feel is right by your children. Being a stay-at-home mom is just as challenging as a 9-5 job.

    • Michelle, I don’t know how race played a part in your persuasiveness against stay at home moms. I going to rally the earlier comments. I don’t believe a budding young lady is going to take a housewife as a profession, because her mother did. It’s farse and well-to-do middle class families have been doing it for years. Trust me parental professions do not affect a negative response for a child’s laziness factor. If a woman was to stay home with a child, introduce the letters, shapes, colors, animals etc.; this incorporates independent motivation and apprehendable qualities for education. It became something approachable and there’s a fondness for it because it was something instilled with family or parents. Kid’s will not have that contempt they do now for learning and school settings, because when they were in daycare and school; it was something most kids felt forced to do 80% of the time. If your kid is happy about school for learning sake then that mean you as a parent defied stigma already granted to school by kids. I guarantee your child won’t have a negative affiliation with learning and listening and sitting still. My child is 18 months and I’ve been playfully showing him his numbers and letters since he was 3 months old. He glows when he sees them and every time I’m on the computer he wants to play the letter games I play with him on fisher-price.com. He loves flipping through a book he’s done since I’ve been showing him letters. I’m not saying he can read, but he picks a book on will and just flips through, watching it intently. It’s the funniest thing, he did it as young a 3 months old before he even rolled over. If that’s not a good start, than I don’t know what is. I’m not saying others caring and teaching for your child is not as sufficient, because even as a working parent you can bring that stuff home on your day offs and go to places that are brain tickling venues. I am all for teaching at home and also found home taught children almost always quest for knowledge than children that are sent to school to be contained(that’s what they believe, and true in some cases). I highly doubt a daughter of this kind of parent would want the same thing because of the desire for laziness. I also know that with a back round of knowledge grasping; their professions and opportunities would be surmountable. It’s just more qualifying when you have more productive time to spend with them.

    • Michelle, You obviously have no idea! A stay at home wife or mother is a Home Engineer, darling. It takes great wisdom to hold this position. As counselor to her husband she assists in ALL business decisions and trust me, any smart man knows that a woman’s intuition out-weighs his any day of the week. She uses her skills in such a way that her husband’s home is truly a refuge from the stresses he experiences while he’s away. She must be creative, attentive, and strong. No my friend, you have no clue on what it takes to hold this position and maybe it’s not for you, but many of us don’t need jobs and titles disguised as “careers” to validate our existence.

  12. Nikia
    I am in the same boat you are in. I to a stay home and a army wife. I tried the daycare thing, but wasn’t working out for me neither. Like you, yes the extra income would help, but with the cost of daycare you will be working for daycare. Soon my youngest child will be attending pre-k and I feel this is the time for me to reenter the work force.
    So don’t let people on the outside looking in make you question whether you are doing the right thing for your family and childre. If your HUSBAND don’t have a problem with it and providing for the home don’t sweat it!!

    From one housewife to the next!!!

    • But you are going back to work because you realize that your time is up and there is nothing left to clean in the home or ask your husband to buy for the home. Having a husband on leave technically makes you single unless you husband gets several 3day passes or week furloughs.
      We haven’t built a strong enough foundation for our young BLACK women to be compared to 100′s of years use ass white women have had to seat at home. And look at how there children have turned out-pedophiles, incestuous affairs, killing teachers and students because they were bullied, killing there parent because she said NO Timmy you can’t go out tonight. The majority of the 20th centuries serial killers were white individuals whose mothers stayed at home.
      If you want you precious babies to be comapared to the killers at Columbine or Dahmer go ahead and blame the black communtiy while our daughters stay in the gutter and depend on a man to make sure they are clothed, feed and have a roof over there head because they are STAY AT HOME WIVES.

  13. I definitely think there’s a different stigma in our community regarding stay-at-home moms. This can largely be attributed to the fact that historically, most of us couldn’t afford that luxury so it’s not a social norm for us. Until people understand the benefits of it, it’s going to continue to be viewed as something outrageous, which it truly isn’t. I’m happy for you that your family even had the ability to consider it! I hope that I am able to be a stay-at-home mom when I start having kids!

  14. Nikia – please dismiss comments made such as those that would hurt you and cause you to question doing what you know is best for your family. I always tell mothers, if you can stay home with your kids – do so as long as possible. There is nothing more rewarding!

    Stay away from people that would seek to diminish you and your decisions. They are jealous of your ability to care for your kids this way and also have probably never had anyone put them first. If this decision was made by you and your husband, you are doing what is best. Stay positive and enjoy your babies – they grow ever so fast.

  15. Nikia – count it a blessing to be able to stay home with your children. They grow and go so fast you will be wondering where the time went. The ability to have an impact in your children’s lives is important and wonderful. Stay away from those who would try to diminish how important your job is or make you feel less a woman. Those are probably people that never had the opportunity to do the same and whose parents did not make them a priority either. Family is always the most important thing in the world!

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